Perspectives in Journalism

September 12, 2008

Greetings!

Filed under: Education,Journalism — willnortonjr @ 6:29 pm
CoJMC Dean Will Norton Jr.

CoJMC Dean Will Norton Jr.

Greetings! My name is Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Like so many of you, I have taken the leap into blogging. It will be a new discovery for me, as journalist and educator. I hope it will allow us to have a better dialog with you.

In this blog I will write about two great passions: Journalism and Education. Your comments are welcome.

The College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is blessed with many of America’s  top journalism and advertising students.

Don’t be surprised if I blog about our college, faculty and staff. They face many exciting and diverse issues in today’s rapidly changing landscapes of journalism and advertising. I am quite proud of what they do.

Over the past two decades, I have been honored to serve the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communications, and the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Along the way, I’ve visited more than 70 campuses and nearly 50 nations. My travels have always reminded me of the vital roles journalism and education play in helping to improve communities around the world.

Outside the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communications, Prishtina, Kosovo

Outside the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication, Prishtina, Kosovo

That point was underscored in June when I visited the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication (KIJAC), in Prishtina, Kosovo.

Willem Houwen, director of the Kosovo Institute for Journalism and Communication, and I stood at the top of the former Communist Party headquarters, now a bank building in Belgrade. We looked down at a fort at the juncture of the Sava and Danube rivers.

“For centuries this area was a moving frontier between the Hapsburg and the Ottoman empires,” Willem said. “That fort exchanged hands 1,400 times.”

Belgrade is the capital of Serbia, a nation that is a vital player in maintaining the significance of the Battle of Kosovo (1389) and the events related to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1914).

The legend of the Battle of Kosovo is at the heart of Serbian nationalism. In fact, the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication stands near the tomb of Sultan Murat, the leader of the Ottomans who fought in the Battle of Kosovo.

Sultan Murat's tomb.

Sultan Murat's tomb near Prishtina, Kosovo.

The Balkans are at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, Russia and Africa. This is the region through which the great Silk Road was traveled. It has been the region through which armies have cut a broad swath on their way to empire building.

The memory of great defeats and great massacres have shaped the identity and commonality of each nation tribe or group in the Balkans. The recurring theme is victimization and persecution.

Today, our college is part of an effort to educate professionals so that they can begin to change the culture of violence and persecution that marks much of the region.

Over the past three years, many of our faculty have participated as visiting lecturers at the Kosovo Institute for Journalism and Communication. The effort has been funded by the Norwegian government through the assistance of our Norwegian colleagues at Gimlekollen.

UNL CoJMC student photojournalists - Lindsay DeMarco (left), Kate Veik, Vanessa Skocz, Karen Schmidt and Clay Lomneth.

UNL CoJMC student photojournalists in Kosovo - Lindsay DeMarco (left), Kate Veik, Vanessa Skocz, Karen Schmidt and Clay Lomneth.

Last March, our faculty and students joined with KIJAC students to produce a compelling series of photographs and reports that documented the vast impact of poverty in Kosovo. It was amazing to see the sharing of views, cultures and experiences between our students and their KIJAC counterparts in Kosovo.

We are making similar efforts in Ethiopia and in Kyrgyzstan. And recently, a group of Washington leaders asked us to be part of a proposal to do similar things in Afghanistan.

A primary mission of UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications is to prepare students to participate in a global environment. Here, we want them to be both good professional practitioners and  citizens.

By participating in international journalism and advertising programs, we’re contributing to a  process that benefits all. Along the way, we’ve met new friends and colleagues. And yes, we’ve also learned much about these new places, their cultures and their people who have been our hosts and teachers.

Again, I invite your comments.

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